Our neighbors to the north and south, as well as across the country, have food cart lots – places where mobile restaurants flock so that diners can mingle and graze. Not that we're bitter about that or anything.
That Tacoma has no such thing struck Alyson Jones as not only odd, but she also thought it created a real hole in our dining landscape. She thought she could fix that, if only temporarily. Her solution was Moveable Feast, an event she created to erect a mobile food lot, if only for a day, noon-7 p.m. Sunday July 29 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. It’s believed to be the city’s first meet-up organized just for food carts.
Jones, director of media and events for the Tacoma Rainiers, is an avid foodie who enjoys the culture of mobile dining. When Jones met Odette D’Aniello, owner of Tacoma’s Celebrity Cake Studio, at a fundraiser, the two started discussing D’Aniello’s new venture: the Cake Mobile, a lavender cupcake truck that delivers treats throughout the region. That conversation led to co-creating Moveable Feast.
D’Aniello and Jones started slowly, booking just a few trucks, but in recent weeks they have been surprised to see their list grow to 18 South Sound trucks. That’s a surprising improvement from when they first started with mostly Seattle trucks and few locals.
“We have a lot of trucks, but we don’t have a culture here,” said Jones, explaining why local carts were so slow to sign on. Her hope is that the event will cement the idea of a mobile food pod, as they’re called in different parts of the country, that would become permanent. Alternately, she said, Moveable Feast has the potential to become a semi-regular meet-up at Cheney Stadium. For the inaugural event, Jones is estimating attendance at 5,000-7,000 diners. Food sold will be everything from Southern to Filipino, from Greek to Mexican, from fried meat pies to fry bread, from ice pops to cupcakes.
“I think it is going to be awesome to showcase all of these genius, gourmet mobile kitchens and see the foodies of the South Sound come out and enjoy,” wrote Jones in an email. “I know we’ll be seeing a little of everything: authentic lumpia and pancit, shrimp and oyster po’ boys, poutine, organic ice pops, homemade ice cream.”
She’s arranging the trucks in a semi-circle so diners will be able to see every choice with a single turn. Carts will be grouped into categories of savory and sweet. Seating will be in the middle.
Think of the event as a festival of sorts with live music, a skate demo, bouncy houses provided by Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital (the beneficiary of the event), Forza coffee and Pepsi will provide root beer floats and Celebrity Cake Studio will sponsor a children’s area for cupcake decorating. South Sound breweries Harmon, 7 Seas and Silver City will serve in a beer garden.
The event is free - except for the cost of food - and so is parking. Vendors will set their own pricing for food. Those attending should bring cash because not every vendor will accept debit or credit cards. Jones has this warning: “We are expecting large crowds so there are bound to be lines for some, if not all, of the trucks. These guys are used to working fast but are sure to be popular so bear with them.”
From hot dogs to tacos and fried meat pies, here are the locals and other trucks that are booked:
South Sound mobile trucks, catering stands and local restaurants: Barriga Llena (Mexican), Burrito Boy (Mexican, owned by Josefina's), Celebrity Cake Studio's Cakemobile (desserts), Choripan (Argentina), Firehouse Grill's Extreme Burgers (burgers), Fleischkuechle (fried meat pies, of Puyallup Fair fame), Hello Cupcake (dessert), Hilltop Pop Shop (frozen treats), Ice Cream Social (dessert), Island Comfort Food (Island style barbecue), Jamaican Sensation, Jay Dogs (hot dogs), Kinetic Kitchens (American food), Lumpia World (Filipino), Pampeana Empanadas (turnovers/empanadas), Pull My Ear, Ricardo's Wood Fired Pizza, Rico's Tacos.
Seattle area vendors: Skillet Street Food (upscale American), Maximus Minimus (the kitschy truck shaped like a pig serving pulled pork sandwiches), Where Ya At, Matt (Cajun and soul food), Athena's (Mediterranean), Big Food Mobile (flatbread sandwiches), The Jerk Station (Caribbean), Street Treats (desserts), Off the Rez (fry bread), Contigo (modern Mexican), Fusion on the Run (island food/banh mi), I Want Curry Now (Indian), The Box on Wheels (Asian fusion), Raney Brothers BBQ and Kaosamai Thai.
Tacoma Moveable FeastWhen: noon-7 p.m. Sunday July 29, 2012Cost: Free, other than the cost of food at the trucks. Free parking.VIP entry: 11 a.m.-noon; $10 buys an hour early access and a festival T-shirt. VIP tickets are the only way to get the shirt.Details: tacomafoodtruck.com
In case you missed my story last month, here's my guide to 14 South Sound taco trucks.